Make no mistake, the Attitude Era started long before "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Bret Hart was the first one to push Mr. McMahon on his ass. When the audience responded to that incident so positively, I knew we had something. The great thing about what we do is that we have a focus group every night – our fans. You think you’re giving them what they want, but then they shift on you. Raw has changed. Raw has continued to be flexible in order to keep true to what WWE fans want to see. That’s why Raw has produced more hours than any other television show in history.
How do you toe the line between appeasing fans that grew up watching the “Attitude Era” WWE, and trying to wrangle in new ones?
It’s a delicate balance. Prior to Raw, back in the territorial system, my father was on to something. He believed the future of the business was in “entertainment” more than the rest of the promoters. Raw stays true to that concept, because Raw is a variety show. You name it, and Raw has it. Action, drama, athleticism…Raw really does have it all.
Has the goal of Raw maintained the same since its inception – that being to entertain the fans?
Absolutely. Sometimes it gets overstated, but the one thing we do is put smiles on people’s faces. And we do it on a global basis, despite the color of skin, or the different cultures, or whatever. That’s a cool thing to be able to do. For example, I remember the 2007 Tribute to the Troops in Iraq. We were told to be very careful because some of the locals weren’t too thrilled with Americans. So, when we landed, a lot of people were looking at us very disdainfully. But then, when they did a double take, they realized that they were looking at WWE Superstars and they went bonkers.
The goal will be to remain flexible, and to adapt, so that WWE can give the audience what they want. Twenty years from now, who knows what that will end up being?
After all the years, and all the episodes, Raw is still the official dominating force on Monday nights. Go ahead, Vince, pat yourself on the back.